Need HELP with aggressive Newfoundland!!!

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Faithful and- loving companion
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 5:14pm PST 
Can someone help us? I am asking for my friend since she does not have a Dogster account even though I have bugged her to open one. My friend got a purebred Newfy as a puppy last year. Max, just turned 1 in Oct. Problem is that Max is not the gentle giant she thought he would be. They just had their first child in July and they are afraid to let Max around their baby. So he spends his time in the kitchen behind a gate.

Max is aggressive and grabs at your arms, legs, whatever he can grab. And he brings blood sometimes because he bites to hard. He is just playing but it's obviously to rough. He jumps on people and his size can almost knock you down. He just wants attention but you can't play with him because he play so rough and destroys your clothes also.

My friends are big dog lovers and would do whatever and spend whatever needed to make Max the dog they hoped he would be. They dreamed of Max and their child growing up together and being best pals. They took Max to puppy classes at Petsmart and he did good. They have had a dog trainer come by and that didn't help. They've done the squirt bottle and shock collar with no help. They are out of options and are considering getting rid of Max. I can't think of anything to help. My Shelties have had some issues in the past but they are the best angels now. So everything I suggest to do with Max that I have done, doesn't help either.

So are there any Newfy owners out there who could help with an aggressive one year old Newfy? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I would hate for my friend to have to let Max go! I just know he has the potential to be a gentle giant! He is such a beautiful dog.

Thank you,
Jake's Mom

Lady Killer
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 5:26pm PST 
You said that he is just playing, but is too rough? That is not aggression. Aggression is attacking from fear and growling, showing teeth with raised hackles and what not or attacking to kill. Being too rough in play and aggression are two very different things.

I can't really offer any help, for I have not seen his behavior in person but I can offer suggestions.

Shock collars aren't a really good item to train behavior problems like this. My opinion: I think behavior problems like this need person-to-dog contact. The human needs to reinforce the wanted behavior, may it be by grabbing leash in hand and controlling him with that. For instance, when he jumps up on people, pull him down with the leash and put him in a sit position with a firm, "NO." If he still tries to attempt the jump, do it over again but more firmer.
No screaming or yelling, that will only make it worse.
I agree with puppy classes at petsmart in some ways, but others not.
One of the main reasons I DO NOT agree with them is that they use treats. That is a bad habit and usually one that is hard to break. You cannot have treats 24.7 in the training process, that is what makes it worse. The dog will do something for a treat, but not by command.

The grabbing human arms, legs, clothes, hands, and what not sounds to me like untrained puppy. If the training of puppyhood goes sloppy, many pups grow up into huge overgrown pups with no boundaries and the same idea that if they did this when they are 5 months old without any correction, why not now? I've dealt with many mouthy puppies, and to settle them down and make them stop, I usually, I know this might sound weird, but I usually growl at them like how another dog would, say their mother.
If that doesn't work, take them firmly by the neck skin and look them straight in the eye with yet another firm, "NO."

There are many ways to train your doggie....these are just my opinions.
Good luck!!!

Edited by author Thu Nov 13, '08 5:29pm PST


Watching over- all...
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 5:37pm PST 
He is not aggressive. You even stated that yourself. So this is not an aggression problem your friends are dealing with.

I think playing too rough is a sign of lack of exercise, a well exercised dog shouldn't have that much energy. Newfoundlands are big dogs and although they are known for being "lazy", it doesn't mean they don't need any exercise at all! Ideally he should be getting a forty-five minute walk in the morning, a good run in the park in the afternoon, and another forty-five minute walk at night before bed. That is a lot of exercise! But when you commit to a dog- that's what you have to do, so tell them to start getting UP in the morning and walking their dog!

I would also suggest NEVER using a shock collar on a dog, it is not effective, and it is extremely painful for the dog.

Next, I would recommend a clicker. That way, his owners can target the behavior they want- such as laying down and being calm. First start off by just clicking and treating clicking and treating so the dog associates the click noise with a treat. Next, start practicing basic obedience with the clicker. Command the dog to sit and the very moment he sits, click and treat. When he is being calm, click and treat. That way he will soon start to learn that being calm or sitting/lying down voluntarily will bring him rewards.

I would also suggest the use of a crate, a place for him to go retreat when he feels tired or stressed. The crate should be his own personal space and he should not be grabbed or punished while inside of his "den". Tell the owners to click and treat whenever their pup is inside of his crate. Dogs need their own "den" space, and it sounds like this Newfie is missing out on this natural, instinctive denning behavior.

I'm no expert, but I sure hope this post helps this poor pup's owners. Dogs are supposed enjoy and be enjoyed by the whole family! Including the new baby!!


Lady Killer
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 5:43pm PST 
Joey PSDiT:

Great post! big grin
I forgot to mention walks in my post, but yes, walks are very important for dogs. They solve nearly half the problems in over excited or rambunctious dogs.

That's MR.- Momma's Boy to- you!
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 6:16pm PST 
Joey is right. This is not a case of aggression. It is a case of a very large working dog who is not having his needs fulfilled. He needs exercise and he needs stimulation. He needs walks, he needs play and he needs constructive training. If you ask some of the more experienced working dog owners, they will tell you how to combine all three.

Done correctly, tug is a great way to work all aspects of stimulation, training and play.

Put a backpack on him and take him for a long walk.

Most Newfies love to swim and they are usually great at it. Is there any place that he can swim?

Your friends also need to include him in the family. Make rules and teach him what they are. Make it worth his while to follow the rules. If he has a habit of getting too rowdy, teach him "settle" or "place" where he has to go to a certain spot to chill out. To make it worth his while, he should get a nice cookie or a chew to enjoy while he is chilling out. A crate is a good way to teach this, but really you can use anything. We have used washcloths in training class for "place". As long as the dog knows where to go, it can work well. If you need more info on how to teach it, let me know.

Your friends made a commitment to this dog when they got him. They need to fulfill his needs. He is a 100+ lb working puppy. He needs an outlet for his energy and your friends need to provide it for him. Banishing him to the kitchen is only going to make things worse. Think of the excitement....he spends all of his time alone in the kitchen as a puppy. The most exciting thing that can happen to him is to see a person who will give him attention, positively or negatively. Of course he is going to act out and get excited. A person walking into the room is the most exciting thing that happens in his life and he has no idea how to react.
CH ChekrdFlags Vegas GoGo Girl

All Pyr! From- pasture to show- ring!
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 6:59pm PST 
Dear God!
The dog needs training, excercize & attention!!!!!!!!!
If your "friends" can provide this have them contact a rescue!!!!!
♥The- Brat- Pack♥-

This is just the- way we roll!!!
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 7:40pm PST 
I have been looking for a newfie for a LONG time. It doesn't sound to me that he's being aggressive it sounds like he was not given any direction as to what is and is not appropriate as a puppy. That is a dangerous situation with such a large dog, and a baby. I would contact a trainer! I would be happy to work with him. If she wants to give him up send him this way!


Faithful and- loving companion
Barked: Thu Nov 13, '08 8:50pm PST 
Thank you for the responses!!! I have forwarded on the information to my friend. Sounds positive to me and I hope they can get Max the help he needs!

Jake's Mom

Self-appointed- Cookie Inspector
Barked: Fri Nov 14, '08 5:46am PST 
Hi Jake. As a fellow owner of a giant breed, I will say that training here is a big must. Tell your friend not to worry and fret, its only behavior and therefore can be changed. Giant breeds also tend to mature much slower than smaller breeds. For example, Snoops is now 15 months, about 30 inches high, and just over 140 pounds. He, however still acts like a puppy. He will chase our other dog, pulling his tail, trying to entice play. He can get bouncy with guests, and can get rough in play if you allow it. He is still a work in progress.

Clicker training to teach wanted behavior is great. For us, if anyone comes over, Snoops has to down/stay to prevent the bounciness. While he will not outright jump the guest, he will jump and bump into them, which at his size is not pleasant. Drool can also go flying if this were allowed. The biting too hard is also the pup not learning proper bite inhibition.

Tell your friends he will be great and will settle as he matures, but they also have to let him know what is acceptable behavior. Train with consistancy and then stick to it. He will learn fast. At this age, they are not too laid back and excersice is very important. Walks are a must and so is stimulating his brain.

Good luck.
Mocha Bear- (Mokie),- VGG, KPA,

CEO of Rewarding- Behaviors Dog- Training
Barked: Fri Nov 14, '08 9:13am PST 
I disagree with the recommendation of taking this dog for a run. I also disagree with the advisability of putting a back pack on this dog until he is fully matured.

Giant breed puppies should really be restricted to low impact exercise and should not be carrying weight until their growth plates are closed.

The best exercise for this dog will be, not surprisingly, swimming.

The rest of the advise you've received is wonderful, and your friend would do well to take heed of it.

Edited by author Fri Nov 14, '08 9:14am PST

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